By Chris Moore
VERNON, NY – Matt Sheppard led all 30 laps in a dominant performance for his second consecutive victory with the 3 Bastards Brewing Modifieds at Utica-Rome Speedway on Scenic View Campground/Christian Fabrication night.
Sheppard started on the pole following the redraw and never missed a beat on his way to his 62nd career Modified win at Utica-Rome. The 62 wins move him to within one win of tying Stewart Friesen’s all-time wins record at the ‘Home of Heroes.’
“I didn’t even know we were still redrawing tonight but it worked out for me,” Sheppard laughed in Victory Lane. “It made my job a lot easier and we’ve had a fast car all year.”
The Savannah, N.Y., resident occupied the pole starting position with Andy Bachetti joining him on the front row.
After the first attempt at the initial came back due to a spinning car in turn one, Sheppard fired off the bottom on the second attempt and quickly had an advantage.
The race’s second and final yellow came on the third circuit, resetting the field and giving Bachetti one more chance at a restart to jump Sheppard.
It was to no avail.
Sheppard darted out to the lead while Bachetti settled into the runner-up spot and Alex Yankowski battled Alan Johnson for the final podium spot.
With the rest of the top five running the bottom, Yankowski was working the outside groove and using it to his advantage. The Covington Township, Pa. native closed into Bachetti’s back bumper on lap eight and began to pressure Bachetti.
Bachetti, however, changed grooves sensing Yankowski was there and pulled away from his counterpart to maintain the runner-up spot.
Canandaigua, N.Y.’s Alex Payne was on the move as well, using the outside groove to race his way into the top five, getting around Pat Ward and Bobby Hackel IV just shy to the halfway point.
When speedway starter Joe Kriss displayed the cross-flags – signaling the halfway mark – Sheppard led Bachetti, Yankowski, Johnson, and Payne.
The top four remained unchanged, but the battle for fifth would heat up again as Payne’s racecar began to fade.
Hackel IV and Ward both got by the youngster and began to duke it out for fifth amongst themselves. Ward would race by Hackel IV at the completion of the 21st lap and drive away with fifth.
The top five remained unchanged for the remainder of the race, and Sheppard walked away with another impressive victory at Utica-Rome.
“I felt good on the top, but it was thin up there,” Sheppard said of his strategy for the 30-lap affair. “I went up there a couple times and almost went over the bank once.”
“There was just a nice strip of moisture around the bottom, and I figured we’d just stay there.”
Sheffield, Mass., native Bachetti continued his strong start to the season with a runner-up finish and Alex Yankowski rounded out the podium aboard his family-owned No. 84Y.
Middlesex, N.Y.’s Alan Johnson finished fourth aboard the Mark Spoor-owned No. 14J and Genoa, N.Y.’s Pat Ward rounded out the top five.
Finishing sixth through 10th, respectively, were East Greenbush, N.Y.’s Bobby Hackel IV after his tussle for the fifth spot with Ward; Roscoe, N.Y.’s Michael Trautschold who showed good speed late in the race to grab seventh; Gloversville, N.Y.’s Rocky Warner after heading pit side under the race’s first yellow in the Jason Simmons Racing owned No. 98; Unadilla, N.Y.’s Billy Decker aboard the Jeremy Smith Racing No. 91; and Norwich, N.Y.’s Alan Barker used a late charge to round out the top 10.
Cicero, N.Y.’s Paulie Colagiovanni took home the win in the first appearance for the Empire Super Sprint Series 25-lap A-Main.
Colagiovanni, using that razor thin cushion Sheppard referenced, raced his way to the lead and navigated lap traffic perfectly to win the non-stop affair.
Fonda, N.Y.’s Danny Varin powered his way to the runner-up spot, but never got close enough to offer a challenge for the win.
Shawn Donath, Jordan Poirier, and Jeff Cook rounded out the top five.
Durhamville, N.Y.’s Matt Janczuk returned to Victory Lane for the 70th time in his Utica-Rome Speedway career with the Worthington Industries Crate 602 Sportsman.
Janczuk, who started 10th, took advantage of several early race restarts to gain positions before racing by opening night winner Payton Talbot to claim the victory.
Talbot would settle for second with Jim Nagle, Mike Richmond, and Willy Decker Jr. rounding out the top five.
West Edmeston, N.Y.’s Bret Belden grabbed his second consecutive Next Generation Graphix Pro Stock victory from the fifth starting spot.
Belden wasted no time using the outside groove to grab the lead. A couple of late-race restarts brought the field to his back bumper, but Belden never made a mistake for the field to capitalize on.
Andy Graves, A.J. Walters, Jason Morrison, and Josh Coonradt rounded out the top five.
Middleburgh, N.Y.’s Connor Prokop won another exciting Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman feature.
Prokop outgunned E.J. Gallup and Carson Rothwell to claim the victory, his first at Utica-Rome.
Rudy King Jr. (DOHC) and Wayne Russell Jr. (SOHC) crossed the line one-two in the Fonda Fair Four Cylinder division to pick up the victories.
Racing resumes next Friday, May 19 when Fire Management Control of Pennsylvania present ‘$5 Friday.’ The program will be led by the 3 Bastards Brewing Modifieds, Worthington Industries Crate 602 Sportsman, Next Generation GraphiX Pro Stocks, Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman and Fonda Fair Four Cylinders. The Senior Services Inc. All-Star Slingshots and Junior Slingshots join on the inner oval.
Gates open at 5 p.m., with hot laps at 6:45 p.m. and racing at 7:30 p.m.
Grandstand admission is $5 and Kids 11 and under admitted FREE. Pit admission is $40 (ages 13 and up), $35 (NASCAR or Utica-Rome Members), $10 Kids (ages 6-12) and $2 for Children ages 5 and under.
The event – and all Utica-Rome 2023 races – will be broadcast live on FloRacing (www.floracing.tv) as part of the $150 annual subscription.
Utica-Rome Speedway is located at 5591 NY-5 (Seneca Turnpike) Vernon, NY 13476. The official website is www.uticaromespeedway.com and the speedway can be reached by phone at 315.953.4097. Like Utica-Rome Speedway on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @UR_Speedway.
‘SCENIC VIEW CAMPGROUND/CHRISTIAN FABRICATION NIGHT’ RESULTS SUMMARY – UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY FRIDAY, MAY 12, 2023
3 Bastards Brewing Modified Feature Finish (30 laps): MATT SHEPPARD, Andy Bachetti, Alex Yankowski, Alan Johnson, Pat Ward, Bobby Hackel IV, Michael Trautschold, Rocky Warner, Billy Decker, Alan Barker, Alex Payne, Jessica Friesen, Justin Wright, Addison Bowman, JaMike Sowle, Gil Tegg Jr., Randy Shantel, Tim Mayne, Kevin Root, Brad Poppleton, Willy Decker.
Did Not Start: Brian Murphy
Empire Super Sprint Feature Finish (25 laps): PAULIE COLAGIOVANNI, Danny Varin, Shawn Donath, Jordan Poirier, Jeff Cook, Jason Barney, Matt Tanner, Matt Farnham, Sammy Reakes IV, Jordan Thomas, Joe Trenca, Chuck Hebing, Billy Van Inwegen, Davie Franek, Dylan Swiernik, Dalton Rombough, Kelly Hebing, Kyle Smith, Parker Evans, Lacey Hanson, Travis Cunningham, Chris Jones, Matt Janczuk, Steve Glover.
Did Not Qualify: Chase Moran, Tyler Cartier, Keith Granholm, Jordan Hutton, Jonathan Preston, Logan Crisafulli.
Worthington Industries Crate 602 Sportsman Feature Finish (25 laps): MATT JANCZUK, Payton Talbot, Jim Nagle, Mike Richmond, Willy Decker Jr., Blaine Klinger, Stephen Denton, Josh Amodio, Ed Lukas, Matthew Richardson, Allan Hodge, Jeremy Slosek, Seth Martin, David Hackett, David Dickey, Bobby Heintz, Blake Sarpriacone, Jim Rothwell, Teddy Clayton Jr., Alex Hughes, Ed Downing, Joey Buonagurio, Jim Gould.
Next Generation Graphix Pro Stock Feature Finish (20 laps): BRET BELDEN, Andy Graves, A.J. Walters, Jason Morrison, Josh Coonradt, Tim Wood, John Holmes, Jim Normoyle, Ken Griffin, Hunter Keith, Jerry Streeter, George Cushman, Matt Rose, Don Collins, Gus Gould.
Did Not Start: Ed Kotary
Fastline Performance Limited Sportsman (20 laps): CONNOR PROKOP, E.J. Gallup, Carson Rothwell, Zack Welch, Nick Zielinski, Eric Jensen, Dalton Doyle, Bobby Newman, Andrew MacFadden, Dylan Nichols, Stephen Winsor, Kirsten Swartz, Ernie Staelens, Zach Falciani, Eric Winsor, Matt Bukovan, Maddy Broedel, Hunter Tarbania, Mike Haman.
Did Not Start: Dave Kingsley
Fonda Fair Four Cylinder Feature Finish (12 laps): RUDY KING JR., Wayne Russell Jr., Sophia Denova, David Denova, Hank Wedgren, Kayla Gould, Donald Kimball, Hank Wedgren Jr., Kyle Coley, Mike Ames, T.J. Marlitt.
Did Not Start: Natalie Strohm
Algonkin Motel Hard Luck Award: Dave Kingsley